Above and beyond duty: a teacher's story

For this teacher, dropping off and picking up his students is a way to ensure they receive a basic education
Above and beyond duty: a teacher's story
Teacher Francisco Montelongo Guzmán & students – Photo: Roberto Aguilar/EL UNIVERSAL
15/05/2018
13:13
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas
Roberto Aguilar Correspondent for EL UNIVERSAL
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In Ciudad Victoria, behind the wheel of his 1989 Volkswagen van, teacher Francisco Montelongo Guzmán begins his school day by dropping off 25 students every day to make sure they go to school.

In the afternoon shift, he is the principal of the elementary school and rings doorbells looking for sponsors, taking the opportunity to give away books and uniforms for the children, before he heads back to school to pick up more kids and take them home.

EL UNIVERSAL joined teacher Paco during his afternoon drive, which begins at 13:00 in front of elementary school Alberto Carrera Flores.

When he became the principal of his elementary school, there were only 8 to 12 students. “Given our situation, several teachers and I agreed to go out and look for more students.”

One of the proposals he made to several parents was to provide free transportation for the kids – which meant dropping off the kids at school and then picking them up.

The van is his and he pays for the gas.

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(Montelongo's van – Photo: Roberto Aguilar/EL UNIVERSAL)

Initially, his van had space for the 13 children he drove every day to and from school but once his program grew in popularity, the school's handyman helped him adapt the van so he could take in more children.

Teacher Paco already knows his route by heart.

At a red light, a woman approaches the driver's side and hands him a one hundred peso bill. “Don, on behalf of my husband to help you with the gas so you can keep up the good work,” the woman says.

Montelongo seems surprised and refuses the money at first but the woman doesn't take no for an answer. “It's the first time something like this happens,” says the teacher.

On board of his van travel many stories of joy and sadness, of struggle and determination. Without the support teacher Paco provides, many of these kids would have already dropped out of school.

Montelongo teaches first and second-grade groups and he now has 65 students.

“Perhaps many will say they're few but it hasn't been easy for us to get that many."

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(Teacher Francisco Montelongo Guzmán & students – Photo: Roberto Aguilar/EL UNIVERSAL)

Many of this children come from low-income neighborhoods and thus, the school doesn't charge tuition fees. They also give some uniforms and books to students for free.

When discussing how he goes above and beyond his duty as a teacher, Francisco Montelongo doesn't hesitate: “It's very rewarding, it's something extra which never crossed my mind I would do but thank God we're doing it, for the sake of the children. This is something positive for them and one day they'll become productive people.”

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